A continuation of the tale of Valentine’s Day 2009.
After brunch, the lot of us headed up to Muangthai Ratchadalai Theatre on Ratchadapisek Road to watch “Chicago”. I mean, after that huge front-page “article” in The Nation, how could I not?
In all seriousness, though, I actually purchased tickets months ago, long before any newspapers put their integrity for sale.
The show was a lot of fun. Chicago is, in my opinion, a great example of the American musical genre. The staging is simple and there is a good balance of choreography and song. And it is quite sexy. The audience, mostly Thai, ate it up.
On the way home we stopped at the market to buy some ingredients for dinner. Instead of fighting the crowds at a restaurant (and since we had already eaten out once today), we opted to cook at home. Below, Tawn dresses up for dinner.
The centerpiece of the meal was a very nice bottle of Pommery Champagne gifted to us by Boon, a visiting Chicagoan whom we met last November. Here’s a short video we shot to thank him.
The menu was simple: mixed field greens with Italian sausage (sautéed in some leftover duck fat from last week’s duck breast dinner), Jacques Pépin’s mother’s recipe for easy cheese soufflé, a baguette with truffle oil and balsamic vinegar, and chocolate soufflé with raspberry coulis.
This soufflé recipe is great. It is from his very interesting book The Apprentice, in which he shares the stories and recipes tracing his path from childhood to career. He explains that when his mother married his father at age seventeen, she did not know how to cook, except for a few simple dishes. Pépin’s father liked cheese soufflé, which she had never cooked before. A friend had told her that it consisted of a béchamel sauce, grated cheese and eggs. So easy!
No one ever told her that the eggs should be separated – the yolks added to the base and the whites whipped and folded in. As he writes, “Ignorance is bliss, and in this case it was indeed: the soufflé rose to a golden height and became a family favorite.”
It really is an easy recipe and if you’ve been hesitant to try a soufflé, this would be the one to start with. The ingredients are simple: 6 tablespoons of butter and 6 tablespoons of flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in the flour, and brown for ten or fifteen seconds.
To that, add 2 cups of cold whole milk, whisking constantly at a medium-high heat until it thickens, about five minutes. What results is a basic white sauce (same thing you use for making macaroni and cheese).
Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. If you want, make it interesting and add a dash of cayenne pepper. Set it aside to cool for about ten minutes, stirring every so often so it doesn’t form a skin.
Meanwhile, beat together six extra-large eggs in a bowl. Grate about 6 ounces of swiss, ementhal and gruyere cheese. For interest I substituted about 2 ounces of soft chevre (goat’s cheese). You can also add a few tablespoons of chopped chives or spring onions, if you like. Another interesting addition would be some crumbled, crispy bacon.
Combine it well and then put it in a gratin or soufflé dish and then bake it in a 400° F oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the souffle is fluffy and browned. That’s it.
The nice thing about this soufflé is that you can prepare it in advance and wait to cook it without any difficulty. It is a little denser than the average soufflé (since the egg whites weren’t whipped) but it is still super-easy and really tasty.
What goes well with a soufflé? Salad. We did mixed greens with a Japanese-style soy sauce dressing, topped with some Italian sausages.
Regular readers will recognize that I really like salads with some meat on top. Truly, it can be a meal unto itself. Add a few pine nuts for texture and you’re set. And, as you can see below, we were.
While we ate and drank, I put two chocolate soufflés into the oven from the freezer, remainders from last week when Brian and Geng were over. Cook’s Illustrated Best Make-Ahead Recipes cookbook? Love it! Everyone should keep a few soufflés in the freezer.
I hope your Valentine’s Day was every bit as special as ours.